Thursday, December 1, 2011

Child abuse at Penn State: The myth of one-in-four / one-in-six

In the weeks since Penn State, one statistic keeps turning up in the  media.  It’s scary, it’s ubiquitous, it’s meant to stampede people into things like universal mandatory reporting – and it’s wrong. 

It’s the one about how, supposedly, one-in-four girls and one-in-six boys will be victims of child sexual abuse. 

Ever wonder why, in all the scores of news stories, editorials and op ed columns where this stat turns up nobody seems to cite an actual study?  Maybe it’s because of what the study actually reveals.